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Cast Q and A: The inside scoop straight from the group!

A Chat with the ZOOMers...LIVE on AOL!

On April 22, 2002, ZOOMers from all over the map logged on to AOL Live to join our second online ZOOMchat. ZOOMcast members Caroline and Estuardo were joined by Cyndy of the Points of Light Foundation to chat about National Volunteer Week and how kids from across the country are ZOOMing Into Action by volunteering in their communities. See what they had to say below!

AOL Moderator:
Let's welcome Caroline, Estuardo and Cyndy from the TV show 'ZOOM'! How is everyone tonight? Cyndy is the head of Youth Outreach at the Points of Light Foundation.

Caroline, Estuardo & Cyndy:
Great, thank you!

AOL Moderator:
Here's our first question of the evening. This one is from AOL's Kids Only area. This one was sent to us from Katelynn:

A ZOOMfan:
What's National Volunteer Week?

Cyndy:
National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the contributions that volunteers make every day in our communities. And it is this year April 21 through the 27th, and during the week people will be actually doing days of service, like National Youth Service Day. They will be holding banquets for awards ceremonies, writing articles for stories in their newspapers, all sort of celebrating and recognizing the good works of volunteers.

AOL Moderator:
Another one from AOL's Kids Only area -- this one was sent to us from Katie:

A ZOOMfan:
What kind of volunteer things do you guys do?

Caroline:
I've made meals for homeless people. I've participated in a bake sale to raise money to buy a rose bush for one of the families who lost their mother in 9/11. I've cleaned up the beach in the Beach Clean-Up in my town. I donated old clothes and books and things like that to an organization. And I made Christmas cards and went caroling at a nursing home. And I recycled Christmas trees to raise scholarship money for a Boys and Girls Club.

Estuardo:
I made artwork in my school, and we sent it to a homeless shelter. I helped my uncle clean up his new house and paint the walls so he could move in. I dance in a Mexican folklore dance group, and we perform for students to try to get them excited about dancing and their cultures. And finally, I tutor kids during my study periods for my peers.

Cyndy:
I have participated in mentoring programs where I work with high school or middle school students as sort of an adult friend and role model. I have acted as an English as a second language tutor for people who are newly arrived in the United States. I have way more times than I can count acted as a youth advisor for different youth groups, whether it's a debate team, youth advisory council or a youth church group. I participated in making meals and sending them to the homeless. I have done beach clean-ups. I have done too many to mention. But this is the important part... I still do it, just as I hope Caroline and Estuardo will do when they are my age.

Caroline & Estuardo:
We will!

AOL Moderator:
Another one from AOL's Kids Only area -- this one was sent to us from Lauren:

A ZOOMfan:
Can you name a few ways I can try to make money for charities and humane societies?

Estuardo:
What you can do is have a penny drive to raise money for any charity.

Caroline:
You can have a birthday party, and instead of the children bringing presents, they can bring pet food or normal food or anything that the organization is about.

Cyndy:
Or you can have the kids bring presents not for you, but to donate.

Estuardo:
You can have a lemonade stand and send the money to charity.

Cyndy:
Another really popular way to raise money for charity is a read-a-thon, walk-a-thon, or a jump rope-a-thon, something where you take pledges for engaging in a particular type of activity as that, when you can actually not only raise money, but also help someone else at the same time. For example, a read-a-thon, you can actually read books to younger kids, where you can get pledges for the number of books you read, and that you can then donate the money to the charity.

Caroline:
You could have a bake sale to donate money for an organization.

AOL Moderator:
Another one from AOL's Kids Only area -- this one was sent to us from Alexi:

A ZOOMfan:
Can you give me some ideas how to volunteer?

Caroline:
You can go onto the ZOOM Into Action section at the 'ZOOM' Web site, which is pbskids.org/zoom, and that's where you can get ideas and share your stories and read other people's stories, and it gives you a bunch of resources. I do a lot of stuff out of my school, through my teachers. And I used to be in Girl Scouts and did a lot of volunteer work with them. Or your church or temple or whatever. Or your town.

Estuardo:
And also you can go to your parents and see if they know of anything that their companies are doing to help out the community.

Cyndy:
You also can talk to your local volunteer center, which is an organization that wants to connect people that want to volunteer with organizations that have volunteer opportunities. And you can find your local volunteer center in the phone book, or by calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER and putting in your ZIP code, and they will connect you with your local volunteer center.

Caroline:
Cool!

Cyndy:
So it's a 1-800 number that connects you with your local center, just by the ZIP code.

AOL Moderator:
Another one from AOL's Kids Only area -- this one was sent to us from Michael:

A ZOOMfan:
Am I too young to volunteer?

Caroline:
Of course not! Anyone can volunteer. It can be cleaning your room, or cleaning your kitchen for your mom, or reading to your younger brother -- anything can be volunteering.

Cyndy:
I agree.

Estuardo:
Absolutely.

Caroline:
Positively even.

A ZOOMfan:
I live on a farm, and my community isn't that big. What can I do to volunteer?

Estuardo:
It doesn't have to be like anything big. It could be like helping your father around the farm, or even planting a tree on your farm.

Cyndy:
I would also think about two things: Think about what you care about, and think about what you like to do. And look in your community, whatever it is, and see how whatever you care about is being hurt of changed by your community, or how your community can benefit by what you like to do. And like Estuardo said, it can be something really simple. Like maybe the issue you care about is the environment, and when you look at your community, you see trash -- so you pick up or you recycle. Or an example of what you like to do is sing, and maybe your grandparents and your friends need entertaining.

Caroline:
Or you could sing at church or at a nursing home.

AOL Moderator:
Cyndy, some of our audience members would like to know if there is any age restriction for calling the 800 number.

Cyndy:
The answer is no. If you can key in your ZIP code, you can call the number.

A ZOOMfan:
Will 'ZOOM' ever go national or just stay on PBS? The show is really good.

Caroline:
'ZOOM' is a national show. You can watch it on any of your local PBS stations across the country. It's in a couple other countries too.

A ZOOMfan:
I'm in ballet, tap and softball, plus I have my school work. I don't think I have time to volunteer. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to help out my community?

Caroline:
A lot of it is really related to school, so it's during school hours. And sometimes, if it's something you really want to do, you just have to make it a priority in your life. And it also doesn't have to be something big. If you just read to your little brother or sister, that is considered volunteer work also.

AOL Moderator:
And here's our final question for our guests tonight:

A ZOOMfan:
I'm a parent and would love my son to get involved with volunteering in the neighborhood. Any suggestions on how to motivate him?

Estuardo:
You could probably tell him that if he could probably do things around the house, he will probably get motivated to do something bigger. It could be in school or an activity that he is already doing.

Caroline:
And it really makes you feel really good after you do it, and that could motivate him.

Cyndy:
The kids said it earlier through their own examples, that the volunteering they did through their life connected to their life -- to school, to friends, to church, all of those things. And they also talked about that a lot of time they were not just volunteering alone, they were volunteering with their peers or their friends, which could be motivating. And make sure it connects with something they like to do or are interested in.

AOL Moderator:
Cyndy, Caroline and Estuardo, thank you so much for being here and helping others find ways for them to help out.

Cyndy:
Goodbye.

Estuardo:
Goodbye, and keep volunteering and thinking of ideas. ZOOM Into Action!

Caroline:
Woo-hoo, keep ZOOMing and keep smiling!

AOL Moderator:
Thank you to everyone who came here to find out more about National Volunteer Week. Now go out and volunteer! See ya next time.



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